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Bullying by Peers and Mental Health in Adolescence

JAMA Psychiatry; ePub 2018 Apr 11; Lee, et al

Bullying by peers was proximally associated with multiple psychopathologic symptoms, according to a recent study, whereas symptoms of disordered eating behavior were a key risk factor for future depressive symptoms and bullying by peers. Therefore, interventions aimed at reducing problematic eating behavior in adolescents may attenuate the risk of future depressive symptoms and relational problems. 612 participants of the McMaster Teen Study were included in a 5-year longitudinal cohort study, which examines the associations among bullying, mental health, and educational outcomes. Students included in the sample had a mean age (SD) of 13.03 (0.38) years in grade 7, 331 (54.1%) were girls, and 392 (71.1%) were white. Data collection began in 2008 when students were in grade 5 (10 years of age) and have since been collected annually. Researchers found:

  • Bullying by peers was concurrently associated with disordered eating behavior and depressive symptoms at every time point during the 5-year period.
  • Disordered eating behavior was associated longitudinally with depressive symptoms at every time point and bullying by peers at 2 time points in girls and boys.


Lee KS, Vaillancourt T. Longitudinal associations among bullying by peers, disordered eating behavior, and symptoms of depression during adolescence. [Published online ahead of print April 11, 2018]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0284.